Over 500 people have been arrested in Egypt in connection to recent protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi according to an Egyptian human rights group. The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights published a list of those detained on Monday.
Among those arrested was Mahienour El-Massry, an award-winning human rights lawyer. Massry was arrested on Sunday after attending a judicial investigation into some of the detained protesters she was going to represent.
Large protests broke out in Cairo and other cities on Friday night, and smaller protests happened Saturday night in the port city of Suez. Protesters were heard shouting “leave Sisi” and called for the “fall of the regime.” Sisi arrived in New York on Friday for the UN General Assembly, where protesters were seen shouting similar chants outside his hotel.
The protests broke out Friday night after an exiled businessman called for people to take to the streets. Mohamed Ali had been posting videos to Facebook in Twitter all month about the governments corruption and mishandling of money. The poverty rate in Egypt has increased under Sisi’s rule, and now a third of the population lives under the poverty line.
These protests were the first major demonstrations against Sisi since he came to power in a 2013 coup that ousted democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. After the coup, Sisi’s security forces led a brutal crackdown on dissenters.
President Trump expressed his support for Sisi when the two met on Monday at the UN General Assembly and dismissed the demonstrations. “No, I’m not concerned with it. Egypt has a great leader,” Trump said when asked about the protests.
Sisi was asked a similar question and said, “The region will suffer from lack of real stability, as long as political Islam is trying to reach power in our countries.” Sisi outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood when he came to power, a group his predecessor Morsi was a member of.